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2012 Texas Tech Football Preview




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RED RAIDERS HAVE BIG DREAMS
With the start of the 2012 football season just 44 days away, the attitude at the Football Training Facility remains the same as it was on Nov. 28, 2011. Focused and Determined.

After missing its first bowl game in 12 years, the 2012 Red Raiders have been ardent in plotting their course. Just reaching bowl game isn't the mission - it's much more.

Armed with the return of nine starters on both sides of the football and the recovery of 16 surgeries from 2011, Texas Tech might not be the pushover that so many pundits have predicted. The offense, led by senior quarterback Seth Doege, should be the best yet under head coach Tommy Tuberville as the Red Raiders have talented skill players and its best offensive line group since 2008. Defensively, a host of young players from last season have grown a year older and are now under the direction of a veteran defensive coordinator in Art Kaufman.

A potent offense and a much improved defense could have the Red Raiders in contention when November rolls round.

OFFENSIVE LINE

On paper, this is Texas Tech's best group of offensive lineman since the 2008 season. The unit will be anchored around senior LaAdrian Waddle who is a preseason candidate for the Lombardi and Outland Awards and is a preseason First Team All-Big 12 selection. The return of the Beau Carpenter, Deveric Gallington, Terry McDaniel and the additions of LeRaven Clark and Brian Thomas could make this one of Tech's best groups ever.

Player-To-Watch: Brian Thomas. Thomas enrolled at Texas Tech in the summer after receiving a release from Texas A&M. While at A&M, he started 25 consecutive games between his sophomore and junior seasons and helped lead the Aggies to back-to-back bowl appearances.

DEFENSIVE LINE/ENDS

This could be one of the most improved groups on the defensive side of the football with Branden Jackson, Kerry Hyder, Leon Mackey, Dennell Wesley and Dartwan Bush all having solid spring practices. Delvon Simmons was forced into significant playing time as a true freshman in 2011 but that experience should pay off this year as he backs up Wesley at guard.

Player-To-Watch: Leon Mackey. Mackey moves to the interior of the line after playing last season on the end. The switch allows one of the most physical guys on the team to help give the unit a real threat in stopping the run.

RUNNINGBACKS

Texas Tech's success at the running backs position will rely on the return and success of senior Eric Stephens and sophomore DeAndre Washington. Stephens suffered a season-ending knee injury against Texas A&M while Washington suffered a knee injury in the second to last game of the year at Missouri. Some would argue, that the loss of Stephens was the difference maker between five wins and seven. Should both players return and play at a high level, the Red Raiders could be potent at the running backs position which will take some pressure off the passing game.

Player-To-Watch: Kenny Williams. Williams was a highly touted running back out of high school that played in 10 games as a true freshman. He could see significant playing time at the start of the season depending on the status of Stephens and Washington.

LINEBACKERS

Probably the most eagerly awaited position group for the fans this fall will be at linebacker. Will Smith, a junior college transfer from Riverside C.C., was flat impressive during spring practice and emerged as the starter at the MIKE position (middle linebacker). In the spring game, Smith led the defense with six tackles and an interception. Sam Eguavoen is in the lead on the weak side after a strong freshman season where he saw action in all 12 games and made five starts. Eguavoen was named to the All-Big 12 Freshman team by Rivals.com last season and compiled a season-high 11 tackles in the season finale against Baylor.

Player-To-Watch: Terrance Bullitt. Texas Tech's best athlete on the defensive side of the football last season will make the switch from safety to linebacker in 2012. He emerged from spring practice as the starter on the strong side (SAM).

RECEIVERS

A very talented receiving corp will be led by preseason Biletnikoff Award candidate Eric Ward. Ward was Tech's top receiver in 2011 as he rang up 84 catches for 800 yards and 11 touchdowns. Joining ward will be tall/athletic targets Darrin Moore and Marcus Kennard along with Alex Torres, Derek Edwards, Tyson Williams, Jace Amaro, Javon Bell, Austin Zouzalik and Bradley Marquez.

Player-To-Watch: Tyson Williams. Was forced to miss last season after transferring to Texas Tech from nearby West Texas A&M. Williams is a dynamic and physical receiver that will give Tech a big threat at the inside receiver position.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Texas Tech returns seven of its top eight defensive backs from last season and will be led by seniors Cody Davis and D.J. Johnson. Tre' Porter, who missed a majority of the season due to injury, is back at full speed and will provide much needed depth. Senior Eugene Neboh continues to improve and emerged from spring practice as the starter at the boundary corner.

Player-To-Watch: Cornelius Douglas. Texas Tech fans got a taste of what Douglas could do on the defensive side of the ball last season as he converted from receiver midway through the year. Douglas is one of the best athletes on the team and will be the starter at the field corner.

QUARTERBACKS

Texas Tech has arguably the best one-two punch at quarterback in the Big 12 Conference. Seth Doege, a semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien Award last season, is back for his senior season and is a preseason candidate for the O'Brien and Maxwell Awards. Doege threw for 4,000 yards last season and with a strong offensive line and talented group of receivers, that number could skyrocket in 2012.

Player-To-Watch: Michael Brewer. This kid is good. Completed 21-of-28 passes and threw for 297 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Black team to a 25-19 win over the Red team in the Spring Game. Will be a strong backup to Doege as he prepares to take over the starting job in 2013.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Last season, Donnie Carona spoiled the fans with his accuracy as he was 14-of-18 on the season and 7-of-8 in the 40-49 yard range. His graduation had the fan base on edge until spring practice rolled around and Ryan Bustin took the lead. Bustin showed a tremendous about of leg strength and accuracy during the spring and should be a strong replacement for Carona.

Player-To-Watch: Ryan Erxleben. Erxleben was one of the top punters in the league last year averaging 41.7 yards per punt. That number should increase in 2012 as he continues to improve.


 

 

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